Utah Values

Before Envision Utah could work to help preserve Utah's high quality of life for future generations, we had to define what residents' value about living in the area. Sixteen years ago, Envision Utah launched its original visioning effort and hired Dee Allsop, Ph.D., now CEO of Heart+Mind, to identify the shared core values Utahns associate with quality of life and growth challenges.

utah-questionsUtilizing a specialized research methodology called Values in Strategy Assessment (VISTA), Wirthlin conducted over 80 indepth laddering interviews around Envision Utah's 10-county area of focus to find out what residents value about living in Utah with the objective to guide the public, community leaders, and policy makers in making better informed and coordinated decisions to protect, promote and preserve what people truly care about.

To better understand how values laddering works, look at the series of questions on the right from the Utah values laddering interviews as an example.

The original question begins at the bottom with focus on the ATTRIBUTE. Through probing questions, answers are provided that eventually work their way through FUNCTIONAL CONSEQUENCES, PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES, and finally to the individual's personal VALUE behind the original answer. This exercise is done for both the positive and negative attributes people identify in their community. Values laddering helps to identify each respondent's "pathways" or evolution of thought.

thumb wordcloud1After completing values laddering interviews with key individuals in the community, a sophisticated "values map" is constructed by combining the responses from the interviews. Below is a graphic illustration of the Utah Values Map from the updated values study conducted in 2007. As the word graphic shows, the key values of the residents of Utah are self-esteem, family love, peace of mind, personal security, freedom, personal enjoyment, self-satisfaction, and accomplishment.

thumb wordcloud2There are "strategic hinges" or pathways that exist, linking the attributes and benefits of life in a community or region to the people. Conducting values research helps identify the rational and emotional drivers of this hinge. The pathways between elements are determined by the wordlcloud3frequency that the lower level response led to the higher level response during the values interviews. Click to see the sophisticated values map that was created from the study conducted in Utah.

wordcloud4The core Utahn value system centers around a sense of peace or peace of mind—this value dominates above all other value orientations. This value is supported by living in a great place where there are bountiful opportunities to get out and do things that are personally important. When focusing on what makes Utah a great place to live, four general pathways can be identified for Utahns—all of which include peace of mind as an ultimate value. The four pathways are: Safe and Secure Environment, Time and Opportunity for Personal Enjoyment, Personal Community and Enrichment, and Financial Security.

value-ladders

Understanding the values of Utahns' helped to shape future scenario development and those scenarios were modeled to determine the impacts of certain decisions on community values. Once Utahns' had a better understanding of the impacts of their decisions they were able to reevaluate those decisions to determine if the community was headed toward a desired future.

This deeper understanding of values has led to a significant change in attitudes, with notable successes including the construction of many miles of passenger rail, increased acceptance of higher density housing products, and reduced water consumption. As further planning efforts such as Wasatch Choice for 2040 and a number of demonstration projects proceed, additional progress is being made.

When communicating about the process, it's important to communicate using the communities words. Values research helps create a common dialogue. The words used to define the same widely held concerns and goals may vary among communities and stakeholders. The Utah values study revealed that Utahns' used different words interchangeably to describe a common goal. Examples of those words are below.

Understanding the values of Utahns' helped to shape future scenario development and those scenarios were modeled to determine the impacts of certain decisions on community values.

Once Utahns' had a better understanding of the impacts of their decisions they were able to reevaluate those decisions to determine if the community was headed toward a desired future.

This deeper understanding of values has led to a significant change in attitudes, with notable successes including the construction of many miles of passenger rail, increased acceptance of higher density housing products, and reduced water consumption. As further planning efforts such as Wasatch Choice for 2040 and a number of demonstration projects proceed, additional progress is being made.

utahvalues2